Communicating with Shame: Monitoring the Presence of Shame in Conversations
The relationship between shame and communication is interesting and in many ways tragic. When a person tries to communicate his shame, he will often do so in ways which either alienate or shame the other person. Whereas the most effective way to reduce shame is by means of talking, it is often through these same efforts that we hurt the other, leading to continual cycles of reciprocal shaming. The chapter focuses on how shame disrupts interpersonal communication and how it can provide clues about important (unresolved) issues in a relationship. It is argued that while conversations can hurt, these same hurtful conversations have an important function – they are often the only way for people to reveal their shame. The chapter describes how painful conversations are a result of using negative communication behaviors such as blaming, name calling, and interrupting and how, ironically, these unsuccessful communication strategies are often the only way for people to expose their shame. Viewing such behaviors through this lens allows to effectively monitor the level of shame in the conversation and to empathize with instead of criticize or blame those using them.
KeywordsShame Communication Monitoring Mind reading Influence Conversations
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